By Laura Heuston
Jump First, Ask Later is an “indoor parkour theatre show”, the likes of which I had never experienced before. It advertises as combining “Tricking, B-Boying, Parkour and Acrobatics”, which already seems like a mean feat, however when one considers the fluid nature of tricking you realise it can also include gymnastics, tumbling, breakdancing, freerunning and martial arts. And Jump First, Ask Later does. The cast are the members of Dauntless Movement Crew- a six person ensemble featuring 5 men and 1 woman- who take us through various ensemble and solo movement performances, accompanied by stories that illustrate their various heritages, the deep connection to the neighbouring suburb of Fairfield, and their personal relationships with movement.
This show was fascinating to me for a couple of reasons. The first is to do with words. As someone who engages with various forms of verbal and written expression for my living, and for most of my hobbies, it was a strange experience to come across six people who seemed more skilled at expressing themselves physically than verbally. This was not to say the narration was necessarily bad, but rather that when compared to the movement it did come across as slightly stilted. Although necessary for structure, clarity, and rests for the performers, I found myself infinitely more engaged with the narration that also featured movement. And it did not have to be anything particularly elaborate- when Ivana was relaying the story of her mother’s immigration and their relationship she accompanied this with various gymnastic poses. This did not in any way appear to be a strain on her ability to tell the story, in fact, she looked more relaxed with her leg stretched in an almost vertical line up a wall than I imagine I did in my seat. And while the story was lovely in itself, the delivery when combined with movement added the extra layer of interest that a deeply personal story that has not been crafted to wow an audience, or doesn’t include intense content, needs. The humour was another aspect that stood out. While their verbal jokes were endearing, they did sometimes come across as a bit lame, whereas their physical humour was nothing short of hysterical. Taking on the roles of arcade game characters allowed an abundance of fantastic jokes, as well as stunning athleticism and choreography, all without saying a word.
The second reason was that this show was able to take these styles of movement from the incredibly cool to the truly beautiful. No one can deny that these feats of physical mastery are aesthetically amazing and the performers are clearly to be admired, however towards the end of the show, the work transitioned from heaps of fun to simply stunning. It’s the difference between an audience cheering, laughing and clapping through a routine, and sitting in complete silence, collectively holding their breath, afraid to blink in case they miss something. And we truly met with that difference when Tristan completed his solo routine, to a recording of him explaining who he is and listing various tricks. The concept is obscenely simple, and the execution breathtaking. The audience, myself absolutely included, was hypnotised to the point that we were almost unable to applaud the conclusion, as we were all still coming out of a collective reverie by the time he left the stage. I must also give a nod to AV Designer Sean Bacon, whose simple but perfect lighting design allowed for the mood to shift seamlessly while maintaining the gritty, underground feel of the scaffolding set.
This show is for the most part incredibly fun, and when it isn’t what I’d call fun, it’s probably gobsmacking. Watching people who confess to view the world in a completely different way to you due to their physicality was an enlightening experience for me, and I’m sure for many people an inspiring one.
Photo Credit: Daniel Boud
All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.